Plumbers, rabbits, hedgehogs, warriors and squids made for a lovely day at Nintendo!
After a couple weeks of waiting, I finally got the chance to play through the upcoming titles for Nintendo Switch. This includes the many heavy hitters of key Nintendo franchises, plus a couple of third-party endeavours. While most of these have already been discussed at length on this site, I did want to tell you how I felt about them. Without further ado, let us jump into it.
Super Mario Odyssey
It was truly a magical moment to finally play this. While I played this in tabletop mode, I was completely enthralled by everything in the two kingdoms. I started with the Metro Kingdom, where I decided to follow the first story mission. This involves finding the musicians of Pauline's band, so that a festival can take place. The band members can be found on an island, on top of a building and many more places. As that was going on, I found myself wandering around and taking on tasks as I saw fit. A good example is how I tried my hand at an RC car. This didn't go exactly as well as I hoped, but I could certainly smile about it. I then went in a few more different directions before my time was came to an end.
With the Sand Kingdom, I took a more straightforward approach. I went immediately for the story beats and climbed my way to the top. By doing this, I was exposed to what the game is truly all about. The platforming in particular felt really on point. The amount of freedom that Mario has makes new strategies possible. The cap throw and the things you can do within the move set will make thrill seekers happy. Talking about the cap, taking over enemies and objects is incredibly fun. I took over Bullet Bills, which made racing through certain parts an absolute pleasure.
What I enjoyed the most about Super Mario Odyssey was the sense of adventure. In previous Super Mario entries, you had to hop back in to enjoy the next step of the journey. Now you collect a Power Moon, get a reaction out of the Italian plumber and continue. This keeps the flow of the game consistent which enhanced my experience. It didn't feel natural to decide where to go next in a Mario game, but somehow I got used to the idea pretty quickly. Nintendo has said that there will be 30 - 50 Power Moons in a world, all of which I totally want to find. Odyssey is a wonderful experience and I am so excited to see more of it.
With Splatoon 2, I focused my attention on two specific elements. I began my session with some more Turf War matches. This new build allowed us to freely pick any weapon or gear we would like to use. I tried a variety of options like two different types of rollers, Splattershot, Splat Dualies and so much more. This was all done to get a better feeling of the game and to see what has been changed. Overall, it was just a warm bath for me. I quickly went back into the groove of things and splatted anyone in my sight. Most of the time I came out on with top points, which was a grand feeling.
During my play time, two new maps were on display. The first number of rounds were on the Humpback Pump Track. The environments were basically all BMX hills, which created unique opportunities when it comes to dodging and chances to regroup yourself. On the map, I found myself constantly moving around the hills to see if an opponent would climb. By the off chance they did, I would rush back and splat them right in their path. I found this to be quite effective in the long run. The second map, a new version of Moray Towers, has been somewhat expanded. The slopes are different in some areas and they have added Inkrails for a clever twist. You will need to spray ink to change it into your color, but the advantages are clear here.
The second element I got to see was the new Salmon Run mode. It is here that you fight against the Salmonids with a team of two to four people and bring Power Eggs to safety. Honestly, I was shocked by how fast paced this mode is. It feels that the enemies are coming from all sides and only have a little of time to react accordingly. Even on the lowest difficulty, a mistake was easily made. You don't know which enemies are coming your way and that can screw you over when you get started. It is important that you can communicate with the team, because the gravity of the situation can be lost on you otherwise.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is something I didn’t expect to like. The announcement during the Ubisoft conference turned me into a believer and I was ready to see what the title was all about. For starters, you don't control the various characters directly. A disk shaped robot guides you through the world as explore a twisted Mushroom Kingdom. You will see gigantic toilets with rubber docks, gigantic question mark blocks and a lot of other neat stuff you can interact with. You will solve little puzzles, collect coins and explore the crisp environments the game offers.
The best part about the game is clearly the strategy gameplay. It has a very distinct XCOM flavor to it, which I quite appreciate. You are given the freedom to move and attack in any order. This allows you to make some interesting plays. Sometimes you need to move your character to make an impact and then follow it up with a devastating strike. In other moments, the brick blocks make hitting impossible. You will need to hit those first and then run to a safer haven to ensure a solid follow-up. A handy tool with all of this is Mario's special ability. This can send allies packing further across the map, so that can take back control quicker.
There is a fine flow, which is beneficial to a game of this ilk. Between your moves, there seems to be very little downtime. The opponent's attacks are represented with the same charm and battles in themselves only take a number of minutes. There is also a certainty to escape on the maps with special pipes and other attributes that make all of this really pop. The demo, which took about 20 minutes, just flew by and I almost wanted to jump in. Even though there is familiarity within its mechanics, it does some new things that are fun to look deeper into. Either way, the end of August can't come soon enough in my humble opinion.
Fire Emblem Warriors
As many of you know, I am a huge Fire Emblem fan. Next to that, I do enjoy the Warriors games a lot as well. Hyrule Warriors is one of the best experiences I've ever had with a Musou game, so I was excited to see more of the teams involved. As the weeks followed, I lost interest in the game somewhat. Their focus on three titles and the reveal of mostly sword wielders left me quite a bit miffed. It didn't seem to reach the potential that it could had, but I was willing to be convinced by the Post-E3 demo regardless.
The gameplay side of it is as solid as before. You have your weak and strong attacks, which you activate with the Y and X buttons respectively. With these in hand, you make combos that can nail opponents in quick succession. The players will take large masses of soldiers and nail them down without too much hassle. For the bigger enemies, like fort captains and bosses, a bit more work will be needed. This is where the special attacks and Awakening mode come into play. They deal a lot of damage and can drain a stamina meter, which will make them completely defenceless.
The characters had a lot of variation as far as individual movements are concerned. Corrin, for example, uses her dragon parts to dish out additional damage to her opponents. Chrom's sword movements are more traditional, but feel very hard hitting and satisfying. During my demo time, I went out of my way to constantly change characters and give them equal time. Just like Hyrule Warriors Legends, you can freely switch between them. This keeps the gameplay varied and allow you to be effective during every part of mission. I hope that this means that we are getting missions where multiple times are a requirement. That would be beyond perfect!
With Sonic Forces, I wasn't really sure what to think. I could get behind the concept and the bosses that would team up, but I really needed to see more. It seemed to give us similar gameplay as Sonic Generations with the custom hero gameplay added on top. So how does it stack up? Well, the indifference really hasn't changed at the moment. It is mostly due to the three levels I have seen so far, so who knows how the final game will end up. Both Sonics played quite well, but the custom character was a real mixed bag.
I suppose that the last point is the best place to start. While I appreciate that Sonic Team is doing something new here, nothing about it felt fun. You have a grappling hook to swing around and various weaponry at your disposal, but that is exactly what I dislike. The core gameplay of the series is built on skills and this new approach makes the old one murky. You walk around, fire your flames in front of you and clear the way to the end. It was incredibly simple to perform well on this level. Giving this fact, I did stop caring after I was well into the stage.
The two other stages simply kept my interest a lot more. I feel that the Modern Sonic level I played is one very early in the game. It wasn't all that difficult to complete and various passageways felt quite limited. It does seem to have that Generations blueprint and I am certainly interested in seeing how they handle his gameplay in later levels. His various quirks can perform in well designed environments as a few recent entries has shown us. As far as Classic Sonic is concerned, it is pretty much what you expect. Instead of a level, we fought against Eggman and his Egg Dragoon robot, which was quite fun. It was weird to see fully 2D stage, but it worked quite well. Hopefully there will be more neat references like this!